It is important to note that modern medicine is practiced in China and the country is not exclusively practicing the traditional form of medicine it has come to be known for. In fact, it is only Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that is different from Western medicine as it is known.
Western and Chinese Medicine
Understand that TCM is now practiced in the West and Western medicine is a standard in China as well. There is no difference between the allopathic medical practices of modern medicine between the two countries. Each follows similar standards and training.
TCM is based on the traditional medicine of China and it involves the use of the five element theory along with herbal treatments, acupuncture, and certain other types of energy manipulation. This is also known as the manipulation of chi or essential life force energy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Since TCM is based on the five elements of the body, it is different than allopathic medicine is or ever will be. It is a much older system that originated before the basic sciences that brought allopathic medicine to where it is now.
The elements of fire, water, earth, metal, and wood all correspond to different organ systems in the body. Wood is the liver and the gallbladder. Metal is the lungs and large intestine. Earth is the spleen and the stomach. Water is the kidneys and the bladder. Fire is the heart, small intestine and the blood.
This all may sound like it really makes no sense but it mostly refers to the energies of these organ systems rather than the organs themselves. The fact remains that TCM is highly effective both in theory and in practice.
Western medicine, unlike TCM, uses anatomy and physiology as a basis for understanding disease and methods of disease control. It started a while back but it started later than TCM which has been around for over two thousand years of recorded history. Western medicine has yet to hit the ripe age of 300 in any sense.
Western medicine (allopathic medicine) relies on drugs, known as medications, to control symptoms and surgery to correct physical problems. There is no consideration of chi or energy involved. It is pure science and it has its place. In fact, without it, the world would not be where it is today.
Both Have a Place
What is coming to be understood now is that both TCM and allopathic Western medicine have their place. Both are effective. Though both are indeed at odds scientifically speaking, they both show leaps and bounds over each other.
This has come to a point that allopathic medical scientists are looking to TCM methods coupled with Western medicine to provide better care for patients. As it turns out, many medical doctors are getting certified in acupuncture and herbal medicine in the TCM tradition but with a Western twist.
The fact that acupuncture can offer unique and safe, non-drug forms of anesthesia is something that is now in focus with the scientific community.